Code Red Emergency

emergency2Today we continue our series of the winning essays submitted to Dean of Freshmen, Fred Siegel.  These freshman were selected from over 300 of their peers to attend a dinner with Dean Siegel and author, Thomas Friedman.

Our featured essay of the day is by freshman, Kevin Dore.

Ronald Reagan once said, “Man is not free unless government is limited”. In the extremely diabolic and oppressive dystopia presented in Thomas Friedman’s self-proclaimed masterpiece Hot, Flat, and Crowded, manifested in his “Energy Internet” chapter, humankind is enslaved by an overaggressive government with unlimited power, a government that has virtually no limits. The portrait of this futuristic America existing in 20 E.C.E. painted by Friedman throughout his book, should project an echoing warning cry to readers; a cry of classical and futuristic examples of the consequences of uprooting sovereignty out of the hands of the people, and putting it into the mantle of the government. With the aid of unfounded facts, dramatic and over the top claims, and visions of a future that could not morally exist, Friedman naively attempts to scare the reader into handing over his or her freedoms to government that he foolishly believes will do the right thing and save the world. Although Friedman has good intentions, the methods he suggests are destructive, radical, and totalitarian. There may be a way to save this world, but it is not through a future in which government and utilities run society, but rather through the will and strength of the individual.

Using a writing style entrenched in the politics of fear; Friedman horrifies readers with hundreds of facts and scenarios of a future world that is on the brink of the Apocalypse, not because humanity’s time is up, but because we have sealed our own doom through our reckless disregard for the natural world. Many of Friedman’s assertions are correct; energy supply and demand, petrodictatorship, climate change, energy poverty, and biodiversity loss are serious and vital issues that must be dealt not only for the benefit of the United States, but for all nations and all people. However, Friedman is spectacular and dramatic with the alarm and urgency in which he writes, especially considering more pertinent and decisive problems such as constant child malnutrition, the rapid spread of AIDS/HIV, the lack of women’s education, and the threat of global terrorism plague that world today. He makes it seem as though we will all perish in the next few seconds if we don’t act according to his vindictive plans. Well, as of now humanity is still kickin’! It is also difficult for the reader to believe or understand Friedman in the majority of the book, this is because his main thesis’s and assertions rely heavily on facts; facts which are presented in his book without either footnotes or source notes, making it almost impossible to independently verify. Even through intense research, the vast majority of his facts are unable to be located as proven fact, as they are demonstrated.

Friedman may be theatrical and unsubstantiated in many parts of the book, but frankly these factors are not the most frightening elements of his assault on liberty. The truly horrifying part is the tiny little section on what he believes the future of the United States should look like. He advocates the total government control of every aspect of our lives that require some type of energy usage. In his world, reminiscent to the world of Aldous Huxley’s masterpiece, Brave New World, the government can dictate such things like when we can use our dishwasher, the periods of time in which we can drive our cars, when we can watch television, and when we can turn the lights on. This is a completely and totally repulsive concept. Through Friedman’s little “black box” that everyone has in the homes, the government has total and absolute power. He doesn’t only stop at our homes, but even goes as far as to suggest massive corporate involvement in our education system, through his “sharing the kitchen” proposal. Do we really want Dominos pizza determining the curriculum for our children at school? This proposal was among many others in which the government and corporations can dominate our lives in and out of private homes. Sure Friedman believes that this will be the best course of action to save our planet in peril, but who is to stop the government from abusing this power? Will the party in control of all the energy power in the United States be able to turn off the lights when the opposition party is on television or using the internet? Will the government be able to decide what types of products we buy, the cars we drive, and the businesses that succeed through this ominous authority? Like the famous English historian John Dalberg-Acton once stated, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Giving the government this type of clout will be opening Pandora’s box. Think about how much your life depends on electricity. Whether it is simply taking a shower in the morning, or when you are on life-support at the hospital, electricity is so vital in our lives, and the government will be able to control all of that. Personally, I would never want the government to decide when I able to take a shower, or even when the plug should be pulled on me. Freidman is well intended in his book, but he naively believes that the government will always to what is best for the people. Giving it this type of power will be like selling our souls to the devil, and there is no going back. I love the environment just as much as anyone, but there are solutions to save it without giving up our freedoms. Friedman pretends to love democracy, but he obviously doesn’t care about it that much if he advocates for the United States to become “China for a day”. Tell that one to the people in Tibet, I am sure they would love hear about another China in the works. The issues facing the environment are grave, and need to be confronted, but not at the cost of independence. I honestly believe that humanity is more important than some Yangtze River turtles. Let’s not play around with freedom and democracy, Mr. Freidman, rename your philosophy from Code Green to Code Red, because it will be one hell of an emergency if any of your proposals are ever enacted.

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One Response

  1. I just wished to chime in and say, I love your points. The ever present call for government involvement throughout the book really disturbed me, but I couldn’t quite put into words just exactly what was wrong with it. Your essay was incredibly informative on that point, and I look forward to meeting you.

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